Eric MorganSpeaker Biography

Eric Morgan

Eric Morgan graduated in veterinary medicine and zoology from the University of Cambridge in 1997 and then completed a PhD in parasite ecology and epidemiology at the University of Warwick. He has been at the University of Bristol since 2002, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Parasitology. Research interests focus on the epidemiology of parasitic infections in domestic and wild animals. Predictive population approaches are used to integrate climate and host factors and devise sustainable control strategies. Eric is currently president of the British Association for Veterinary Parasitology (BAVP).

Abstract Submission

Improving host genetics for resistance to parasites: searching for optimum phenotypes in a changing climate

Eric R. Morgan* and Hannah Rose

University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Science, Bristol Life Sciences Building, 24, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ, United Kingdom

*Corresponding author: eric.morgan@bristol.ac.uk; Tel. +44 1173 941195

The long tradition of selective breeding of domestic animals for resilience to parasite infection has accelerated with intensifying threats such as drug resistance, and as new statistical and molecular tools become available. Progress has been best documented for resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep, with resistance traits being integrated into breeding programmes in the field, and significant efforts directed to enhanced detection of resistant genotypes. Several areas of debate have emerged, including the relative place of resistance and tolerance in parasite resilience and its economic benefits, and the potential for selective treatment approaches to underpin alternative pathways to genetic improvement. Notably, selection under current parasite challenge could be undermined by altered parasite epidemiology in future, especially as a result of climate change. We present results from predictive models of nematode free-living stages that compare the epidemiological benefits of reduced faecal worm egg output under different climatic and management scenarios. This approach could help to design optimal phenotypes for future farms, and hence inform breeding programmes through prioritisation of traits and markers. At the same time, increasing emphasis on refugia-based treatment strategies provide opportunities for farmer-led selection for parasite resilience, especially where more centrally developed genetic resources are unavailable. Efforts to develop host resistance or resilience in other host-parasite systems could benefit from similar strategic consideration of the potential impacts of climate change on epidemiology. Ultimately, breeding programmes for different parasitic and other diseases should be integrated so that their aims align in the best interests of sustainable livestock farming.

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